tracing the veins
on her hand
hedgerow #94, October 2016
© Christina Sng (Singapore)
What I like most about this haiku is its juxtaposition and the pivot in line two.
In haiku, there are usually two parts. The two parts here are “forest path” and “tracing the veins on her hand.” Despite there being no punctuation in this haiku, in English, lines can be a form of punctuation. In Japanese, they have kireji, or cutting words that act as punctuation. However, they are mostly used in poetry, and not in common written Japanese.
Anyways, it is a great observation to compare a forest path to one’s veins on one’s hand. Both weave, but both run to reach a destination through which one can to get the essence of something. It is the heart, and the depth of the nature. We take paths into the forest to go further away from what humans have made, and yet the poet makes an apt comparison between a forest path to the depth of nature and our own veins. Maybe this juxtaposition is also pointing out the similarity between the trail made by human hands, and the hands themselves.
The pivot line is genius. The second line can be read as a part of both the first and third line. It can mean the forest path, with its overhanging vegetation, is touching her hand and traces the veins on it. It could also mean that the way she traces her veins on her hand (with a pen, or simply with her finger) is similar to the forest path. Indeed, we have a forest within us, branching out as nerves, or as thoughts and memories, or as the magnitude of our soul.
Sonically, the “f” sound in “forest” and “veins” give the haiku more weight, and the “a” sound in “path” “tracing” and “hand” supplies a sense of awe.
A haiku that brings many images to one’s mind and many associations, in only eight words. It has a spiritual aftertaste, and gives off a mystical atmosphere when read. That is one of the gifts of haiku: they may seem matter-of-fact, but often express more than what can be said in long prose.
– Nicholas Klacsanzky